Taking a trip to Cape Town is a fun and exciting time, but there is so much to do and see in the Mother City. Something that should be on your list of things to do when visiting this vibrant city is the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. View beautiful gardens and breathtaking panoramic views that go on forever.
A little history of the botanical gardens
The history of Kirstenbosch Gardens is as colourful as the gardens itself and long before the settlers washed up on our shores the Koi Koi were using the land to graze their cattle on and live off.
The name Kirstenbosch has some mystery behind its origin, but it was first seen listed on an inventory of property that was drawn up and handed over to the British occupying forces. There were a few families living in the area with the Kirsten name and it’s unclear which family the name comes from, however, the name Kirstenbosch means “Kirsten’s Forest”.
In 1895 Cecil John Rhodes bought the Kirstenbosch property and appointed a caretaker. While Rhodes owned the property, he planted the avenue of camphor trees and the Moreton Bay Figs in 1898. But, the land was neglected and rundown. In May 1913, the Government set aside the estate of Kirstenbosch and it became what we know it today – the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The Government also agreed to contribute one thousand pounds per annum to the Gardens. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Kirstenbosch Gardens and the people that worked here experienced many hardships.
When should you come to Kirstenbosch Gardens?
The beauty about Kirstenbosch Gardens is that you can come all year round and you will never miss out on a thing. If you are interested in seeing the fynbos and a some of the flowery plants, then the perfect time for this would be from August to November.
The Boomslang Walkway
The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a new addition to the Kirstenbosch Gardens; it was opened to the public on the 17th of May 2014. The walkway is made from curved steel and timber that winds up and dips down through the trees of the Arboretum. The inspiration for this walkway is that of a snake’s skeleton and it is informally known as “The Boomslang” which means tree snake.
#FUNFACT: The Boomslang has extremely potent venom, but it is harmless to humans because of its small venom glands and inefficient fangs.
This walkway will take you from the canopied floor of the gardens up above the trees where you will be spoilt with spectacular panoramic views that stretch from the surrounding mountains, the Garden and as the far as the Cape Flats.
The walkway is about 130m with viewing points where you can stop and take in the views while snapping a few photos. The walkway is wheelchair friendly, but please be aware that the Arboretum is situated on a slope and quite far into the garden.
Let the summer time fun begin!
In a city that is constantly moving, we all look forward to a little downtime and Kirstenbosch offers up some of the best summer fun. The Kirstenbosch summer concerts are perfect for enjoying time with family and friends while listening to some of the country’s best local music. You can pack your picnic basket, lay your blanket down, sit back and take it all in.
The Kirstenbosch summer concerts take place from mid-November to early April and tickets for each concert are available online.
What else is there to do in Kirstenbosch?
After you have walked through the gardens and experienced the panoramic views you are going to be hungry and maybe looking to buy a little souvenir. The Gardens have a few shops where you can buy a variety of plants, books and gifts. If you have built up an appetite you are spoilt for choice with three restaurants:
- Moyo serves breakfast, lunch, scones and muffins with a wide variety of artisanal products, which are served with a relaxed African charm. Moyo is situated near the Visitors’ Centre at Gate 1. Please be aware that dinner is only served on Fridays at Moyo and we advise that you book to get a spot.
- The Kirstenbosch Tea Room is open for breakfast and lunch and serves delicious dishes like sandwiches, soups, cakes and desserts. The Kirstenbosch Tea Room is situated at the Centre for Home Gardening at Gate 2. The tea room has a relaxed atmosphere, but it is a very popular restaurant within the garden.
- Vida E Caffe serves up some of the best coffees and pastries around and it is perfect if you are looking for a quick fix. Vida is situated in the Visitors Centre at Gate 1.
Put Kirstenbosch Gardens on your list of stops when you visit Cape Town because you will be able to take home a truly South African adventure and brag to all your friends.